Black Excellence

By Any Means: How Gun Bans Will Hurt Blacks Most

by any means, black panthers, black people with gun, gun control, gun control and black community, black excellence

If I catch heat for this, that’s just fine by me: We shouldn’t be banning any guns. Ronald Reagan supported the sentiment that semi-automatics were only necessary for military use, with an impassioned essay published in The New York Times, he mentioned the attempt on his life by one John Hinckley, Jr.:

“I was lucky. The bullet that hit me bounced off a rib and lodged in my lung, an inch from my heart.”

He was integral in helping to get the GOP on-board with that sentiment and the Brady Bill being passed. Which led to an assault rifles ban for ten years (1994-2004). The bill, named after James S. Brady, Reagan’s press secretary, who was shot and paralyzed for the rest of his life during this attempt on Reagan’s, was voted into law by 38 Republicans, narrowly pushing through with a 217-216 yay-to-nay decision.

Although so many members of the GOP and NRA are ardent in their convictions today, it seems the 2nd Amendment wasn’t so cut and dry during the 80s for lawmakers and lobbyists. That is, not until blacks marched in California, Reagan was nearly assassinated, and the Iran-Contra scandal (and the laughable effort to conceal this “guns for folks trade” with extremists to extremists)  exposed the true nature of a government with a gun fetish, and an identity crisis–Liberty and Justice for Some. 

black panthers, black people with gun, gun control, gun control and black community, black excellence, gun control, by any meansA topic that must be considered, but which I will broach briefly, is the massive upheaval in the wake of the Parkland teens and the movement around which they have grabbed the attention of a nation. It has been stated, even by the kids themselves, that this sort of outrage and call to action cannot, and will not, take place around the black community simply because our words don’t hold nearly as much clout as those of the white majority. We’re killing each other, they’ll say. It’s not the cops’ fault…you resisted arrest. Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization.  Stop kneeling, you niggers!

Naturally, the bulk of the complaints come from people outside of the African American community, by groups of people who have said that “we complain” too much, in the same tone and voice as those people from the 17th century. If you feel that people have changed over the centuries, or that racism ended once Jackie Robinson started playing for the Dodgers, I will happily show you a place where that is not the case.

How much you believe in the rights stipulated in the 2nd , and how you decipher what those who drafted the document meant, and in what capacity you feel they intended for its use, is up for discussion and debate and has been since the Constitution was inked.

black panthers, black people with gun, gun control, gun control and black community, black excellence, gun control, by any meansAnd also when considering this, don’t forget that Governor (at the time) Ronald Reagan had a hand in the passage of the Mulford Act. Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, and a 23 men, six woman group marched on the California capital of Sacramento back in 1967. Seale proclaimed,

“The American people in general and the black people in particular, take careful note of the racist California legislature aimed at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless. Black people have begged, prayed, petitioned, demonstrated, and everything else to the racist power structure of America to right the wrongs which have historically been perpetrated against black people. The time has come for black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.”

People listened. Most importantly, law makers listened. Before this event, California had been one of the most liberal gun states in America. With the passage of the Mulford Act, no gun could be loaded with ammunition, effectively disarming people who were armed. It was a clearly reactionary move in response to the peaceful statement those 30 men and women made, with .357s, 12-gauge shotguns, and .45s. Now, the government had free reign to target and consider a threat any person of color dressed in black with an Afro and a pick. God forbid they also be hefting an unloaded gun, too!

In many ways, even before the passage of the Mulford Act until the present, all blacks have been given a weapons ban. Hell, as we have seen, one need not even hold a gun to be shot for being suspected of holding a gun.

RELATED: When Public Inconvenience and Poor Police Standards Outweigh the Importance of Black Lives: Introduction to ‘Merica 101

The way I see it, the black community is flawed. Absolutely. And I think the best analogy of the community can be summed up this way: Would you rather have a backache and two bum kidneys? A backache is a simple issue. Get some aspirin. But replacing kidneys is a bit more complex. It requires getting on a donor list. Over a thousand people die every year on the organ donor list. Furthermore, donor locations are listed by region, so if you can, try to live in the Southeast, where you’ll have the best chance of actually getting an organ. Because it is immensely rare for poor or disadvantaged people to get on this list to begin with, (and out-of-pocket organ transplants can start at $575,000), prepare to wait for years for this lifesaving treatment to come. After all is said and done, you get both transplants. All is well, right? No. Because if your body rejects the new organs, you’re back to level one, or you just die. Pick your fucking poison.

There are many, many issues facing the black community today that hardly have an easy fix. We have kidney problems: Crime, poverty, and government dependency are probably the most maligned ailments of a body that has been sick for the past 400 years. So many people are vocal about this idea that “fixing the problem in your own neighborhoods, first,” is the best way to stop the complications outside the community. But sometimes it’s easier, and makes more sense, to deal with smaller complications, as they are more rapidly alleviated, and, will minimize pain within the community, in the way an aspirin is just a swallow and a wait away from curing your backache: Unnecessary police shootings, illegal searches and seizures, higher-than-average rates of incarceration, redlining, gentrification, despicable educational programs, poorer schools, and high rates of school closures.

All of these things would be easier to solve than the many problems within the black community, which are in direct correlation to these easier solvable issues. America keeps asking blacks to swallow the pill in order to replace the two kidneys.  Now while both ailments can be worked on at the same time, acknowledging one without treating the other is as disastrous as hoping acetaminophen is an unsung remedy for renal failure.

Until recently, I was all for the idea of commonsense gun legislation. But I was talking to a friend, debating why it’s so important and how many people it would help, yada, yada, yada…and I realize that “commonsense” laws are a construct that overwhelmingly benefit people outside of my communal realm. There is no commonsense in arresting, policing, and sentencing in urban areas, which is why 47% of overturned convictions are those of blacks. Black people get 20% more jail time for the same crime as their white counterparts. And they are 7X more likely to be wrongly convicted of murder than whites.

RELATED: These Black Incarceration Rates Are Why The Struggle Isn’t Even Close to Over

There has never been a point in our society when the population at large has been cool with people of color openly bearing arms. Not during the 90s with the passage of the Brady Act, or during the 60s with passing the Mulford Act. They didn’t want it during the early 1920s, when the Klan’s membership swelled to over 2 million. They overtly denied it, especially in the South, during Reconstruction. And, yeah, everything before that is just slavery, so…

Why don’t we scale back gun rights? Because at its very heart, it sounds like a brilliant idea…but at its very heart the idea of gun control in America will only make the lives of blacks worse. Increased policing? You bet. Tack on an addendum to start warrant-less searches in black-owned neighborhoods? Yep. Sounds like something the government would do. They ban semi-autos in LA, it’s a perfect excuse to raid every nook in Chicago, or Akron, or East New York, Brooklyn. 

We saw a crowd of angry white men last year with torches. I haven’t been alive long enough to remember the last time that was a thing.  I really don’t want another reason to suspect me and my friends will see those “fine people” in our neighborhood. Protection. By any means necessary. The black community is suffering enough…what will banning assault rifles add to that struggle? I don’t want to know.

Alex Miller

Alex Miller is a freelance writer living in Harlem. His work has appeared in Forbes, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other places.